Side by Side kegerator / fermentation chamber

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mikeal

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The object was to make a temp controlled fermenter and kegerator as inexpensively as possible, and this is what I ended up with. It will hold four carboys and four pin lock kegs with a little room to spare. Eventually, I'll put a plate and taps over the hole on the freezer side, but for now it is working perfectly (if really ugly).

I got a mid 90's fridge / freezer from Craigslist. It was rusted out under the ice dispenser so that area got cut out and the area filled with expanding foam. To make room for the kegs, I took the inside panel off the freezer door, cut out the edge and reinstalled just the edge with the seal. The shelf is held up with 1/2" allthread that is run through the entire width of the unit. Freezer temperature is controlled by a eBay aquarium temp controller connected where the original thermostat was. The fridge temp is controlled by a 2nd eBay controller connected to a 12v PC fan.

I was lucky in that none of the circuitry in the ice dispenser was necessary for the unit to cool and that a wiring diagram was inside the freezer.

The homer bucket and 5 gal water jug are for demonstration purposes only...

This was the last thing I needed to get back into brewing, and I can't tell you how excited I am!


 

_JP_

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Thank you for posting a picture of the inside w/ the carboys and kegs. I've seen a couple builds so far, but hadn't seen one that would fit 4 kegs (which is my goal). Depends on the fridge of course, but at least it looks like it's possible.

I picked up a side by side Whirlpool last night. Probably will get started on it today.
 
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mikeal

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My advice is to plug it an and make sure it runs for a couple of days before you tear into it. I didn't do this and and I was a bit anxious when I first plugged it in. If it didn't work I wouldn't have been sure if it was something that I had done.
 

_JP_

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My advice is to plug it an and make sure it runs for a couple of days before you tear into it. I didn't do this and and I was a bit anxious when I first plugged it in. If it didn't work I wouldn't have been sure if it was something that I had done.
Good idea.


I made sure it was cool inside before I picked it up though, but I'll plug it in today and let it run while I parts together.
 

_JP_

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Turns out my fridge was set up like yours, so I'm thinking I'll need to add a fan to pull cold air from the freezer to the fridge. On another thread I read that this setup didn't control too well.

How is yours working? Can you control fairly accurately (for the fridge side at least)?
 
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mikeal

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I have the freezer at 40 degrees and the fridge at 70 and it holds temp fine. I tested the freezer to around 20 degrees and the fridge still held temp. The fan is just screwed into the wall where the foam damper was.
 

Elky

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That is a really sick unit you have there. I would love to have something like that where you can ferment and dispense. Hell, you could even lager in a corney.
 

_JP_

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I have the freezer at 40 degrees and the fridge at 70 and it holds temp fine. I tested the freezer to around 20 degrees and the fridge still held temp. The fan is just screwed into the wall where the foam damper was.
Cool. Thanks man.

I have a 120V PC fan, but sounds like I need to use a little 12V like you have. I got one laying around somewhere.

Do you have any plans to add heat to the ferm chamber side for the cooler months?
 
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mikeal

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Unless it's too big, I don't see why the 120v fan wouldn't work. Using it would avoid having the kludge of a 12V wall wart wired inline.

I live in South Florida, so I don't think I'll need a heater. I guess it depends on what is in there when winter rolls around.
 

adam01

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Any pics of the built up refrigerator ? I'm trying to figure out what's better, a refrigerator
or a chest freezer. I want to put a conical and corny kegs in there.
 
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mikeal

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Everything is pretty much as shown in the pics above. Here are a few details, though.


My first brew in 12 years, edwort's apfelwein. It doesn't get much simpler than this.




The back of the fridge door. There is a styrofoam piece that usually covers these wires. It's removed for the pic, obviously. The freezer temp controller is on the right.


The ends of the 1/2" allthread. It goes through PVC sleeves while in the freezer and fridge. I'm sure it transfers some heat to the inside, but it was the cheapest solution and takes up the least space on the inside. Vertical supports on the freezer side would have taken up too much space. I'll cover these with foam at some point.


This is the underside of the freezer shelf. The rear panel is off so I could check the coils. You can see the PVC sleeves over the allthread. I through bolted a 1/2" pine support on either side of the freezer/fridge wall to support the weight of up to 20 gallons of beer. You can also see where I cut away the original plastic shelf supports. A razor knife with a sharp blade worked well for this.


This is the top of the fridge where the original thermostats were.


The blue tape was there for testing... and is still there. It's tough to get back there with the shelf supports in place. I had to shim the fan away from the wall a bit to give the fan blades clearance.
 
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mikeal

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Adam- I hosted the pics somewhere else. You should be able to see them now.

JP-Thanks. Faucets and hardware are going to cost as much as the entire project so far. It's in the works, but it will have to be picnic taps for a little while.
 

adam01

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Thanks for doing the new host. I figured out that my internet filters weren't letting
the imageshack url through. I fixed that and saw the pictures.

Thanks.

Adam
 

CousinEddy

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Working on building the same thing, however can't for the life of me find the wiring diagram (Older GE Profile). From the looks of things there's one thermostat for the freezer and a passive thermostat for the fridge side that would open and close a damper inbetween.

So my thoughts are, bypass the freezer thermostat with the ebay one and that should take care of the kegerator side. The fermentation side use the ebay thermostat to run a fan and a heater. Does this sound logical?

If so, the wires going into current freezer thermostat would go into the ebay controller and that would provide power and would switch the compressor on and off.

If that works where would I get the power to the other controller?

Thanks for the help.
 
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mikeal

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So my thoughts are, bypass the freezer thermostat with the ebay one and that should take care of the kegerator side. The fermentation side use the ebay thermostat to run a fan and a heater. Does this sound logical?
That's exactly what I did.

If so, the wires going into current freezer thermostat would go into the ebay controller and that would provide power and would switch the compressor on and off.

If that works where would I get the power to the other controller?

Thanks for the help.
If you have 120V at the wire to the thermostat, you can run both controllers from it. I'd be leery about pulling power for the heater from there, but it should be fine for the fan. I pulled power from the fridge, but I had a wiring diagram. You can always run power to them from outside the fridge.
 

mistercameron

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Working on building the same thing, however can't for the life of me find the wiring diagram (Older GE Profile). From the looks of things there's one thermostat for the freezer and a passive thermostat for the fridge side that would open and close a damper inbetween.

So my thoughts are, bypass the freezer thermostat with the ebay one and that should take care of the kegerator side. The fermentation side use the ebay thermostat to run a fan and a heater. Does this sound logical?

If so, the wires going into current freezer thermostat would go into the ebay controller and that would provide power and would switch the compressor on and off.

If that works where would I get the power to the other controller?

Thanks for the help.
Take a look at my build, linked in my sig. That's essentially what I did on both sides - bypassed the factory thermometer by making the eBay unit the new "dial," so to speak. Even with mine being analog, there was still a logic board for controlling the compressor and other components. It didn't seem to matter.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/fridgenstein-side-side-kegerator-fermentation-chamber-289241/
 

CousinEddy

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Take a look at my build, linked in my sig. That's essentially what I did on both sides - bypassed the factory thermometer by making the eBay unit the new "dial," so to speak. Even with mine being analog, there was still a logic board for controlling the compressor and other components. It didn't seem to matter.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/fridgenstein-side-side-kegerator-fermentation-chamber-289241/
Took a look at your build and was just double checking for I started my first attempt at appliance wiring. Thanks alot for the help.

I installed the first controller, pulled power from some live wires that used to go to the ice maker. When I got the controller to kick on to cool, the fan in the fridge above the coils kicked on. Is that right, or did I plug in the thermostat somewhere in the defrost system? I don't have everything back together yet and didn't want to leave the fan running, so I just shut it down.

Thanks again for the help guys, this site is awesome.
 

CousinEddy

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Thanks for the replies, this site is awesome.

I wired in the first unit yesterday, pulled power from what used to be going to the ice maker. With the ebay thermostat inline when the temp drops the fan in the fridge turns on. Did I tap into the defrost system? I haven't left it on long enough to see if its cooling yet, just wondering if that seems right, I'm kinda shooting from the hip without the wiring diagram.
 

mistercameron

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Thanks for the replies, this site is awesome.

I wired in the first unit yesterday, pulled power from what used to be going to the ice maker. With the ebay thermostat inline when the temp drops the fan in the fridge turns on. Did I tap into the defrost system? I haven't left it on long enough to see if its cooling yet, just wondering if that seems right, I'm kinda shooting from the hip without the wiring diagram.
The mechanism depends on the fridge, but yes, there is a fan that comes on normally. It's there to blow cold air from the freezer into the fridge. If the freezer temps get too warm, that's when the compresser turns on. My fridge has the fan in the freezer compartment next to the cooling coils and a damper (door) that opens when cool needs to be circulated into the fridge. The purpose of that fan is to get cold air moving to blow through the damper when it's open. You'll know when the freezer side is going because the the compressor will also turn on.

The defrost system actually mystifies me a little bit. I'm not sure how it works, but I assume it's doing its job. That could be the problem with mine where the fridge fan stops after some amount of time, even though the ebay unit is signaling "cold". It doesn't start back up until I open the door. It's a pain to do it every few hours as I'm getting fermentation temps dialed in. It's enough to prompt me to wire my own fan where the damper is so it's 100% controlled by the eBay unit. Don't worry if that doesn't apply or make sense - it's probably more specific to my fridge.

On my heater, I took the fridge's hot and ran it to a ceramic fixture with a 100W reptile heater and 120V fan in parallel to keep the warm air circulating. So far it hasn't been a problem.
 

mistercameron

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I'm kinda shooting from the hip without the wiring diagram.
Oh, one more thing - try contacting GE. They may have wiring diagrams for you, even though the fridge may have been out of production for a while. My Kenmore is probably 12 y/o and they had all the original diagrams to send me via email.
 

CousinEddy

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Thanks for all the help, contacted GE and they emailed me the wiring diagram. Finished up the wiring, waiting on the kegerator supplies. to finish it up.
 

CousinEddy

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Alright, so now the next problem is coming up. So I'm heating the ferm side with a small space heater. Getting great temp on the bucket with the temp sensor attached (sensor wrapped in some foam, taped to side of the bucket). The problem is the other bucket.

I just have a carboy filled with water to look at temps before I actually put something fermenting in there. I'm getting about a 14 degree difference in temps between the upper rack and the lower rack. Had primary on the bottom sitting at 64 degrees, the carboy up top was 78. So I switched them, now the primary up top is 62 and the carboy is 48. The side by side is in a cold garage.

Any ideas, the only I got now is during winter ale up top, lager on the bottom.
 
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mikeal

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Is there a blower on the space heater? If not, try circulating the air with a small fan.
 

blazinbrush

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What size fridges are you guys using? I'm planning to do something like this, but I'm not sure how big I need to be able to fit four carboys, preferably 6.5 gallon glass. Or better yet, what make and model are you guys using?
Thanks,BB
 

mistercameron

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blazinbrush said:
What size fridges are you guys using? I'm planning to do something like this, but I'm not sure how big I need to be able to fit four carboys, preferably 6.5 gallon glass. Or better yet, what make and model are you guys using?
Thanks,BB
I'm using an older Kenmore. The fridge can easily hold 2 carboys or probably a couple corny kegs. My freezer is set up to hold 2 cronies on the bottom with room for bottles in the shelf above. I've heard some people have crammed 4 ball lock kegs in there- something in going to investigate.

My sig has a link to the full build tutorial. Maybe the iPhone app doesn't use the web signatures, in which case, search for "Fridgenstein" :)
 
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